Sunday, December 23, 2012

Soup, Romance & Nuit de Noel

Last night, I made soup, and it turned out good.  I say this because I never follow a recipe so I'm not sure exactly how soup, or anything else, is going to turn out - it's different every time.  Usually, I look at two or three recipes that represent what I want to cook, then I wing it and make up the rest.  Occasionally, when it turns out great, I write down what I did.  But mostly, I just convince myself I'll remember, then end up starting over the next time.

Whenever I cook, B-man and I hang out together in the kitchen, talking and laughing as he pours the wine while I fake concentration on the process. This time, halfway through my soup project, I wonder what perfume will highlight the flavors and complement our meal.  After spending a few minutes in the smellie room, I decide upon Caron's Nuit de Noel.  Not just because the perfume itself is beautiful, but because the history behind it is so romantic.  As the story goes, perfumer Ernest Daltroff created Nuit de Noel for his lover because she was in love with Christmas Eve.  And he was in love with her. 

Telling B-man about this story last night, after he says how good I smell, I get a little teary.  Nuit de Noel is most enchanting at Christmas, and each time I wear it, I am reminded of the love behind the perfume and the love that fills my own life. 

Nuit de Noel is a beautiful accent to my soup.  This time, I wrote the recipe down and included it here so you can try this pairing for yourself.

Josephine's Roasted Squash & Pepper Soup


½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic
1 cup almond milk
6 oz red wine
24 oz chicken or vegetable stock
1 inch piece fresh ginger, minced
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp allspice
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 lbs butternut squash cut in 1 inch cubes
2 lbs red/yellow peppers cut in 1 inch pieces
1 can large butter beans

Place cubed squash and peppers on a large shallow baking sheet and roast at 425 degrees for 45 minutes, turning once. Set aside.

In a large (at least four quarts) cooking pot, heat olive oil and sauté onion until slightly caramelized. Add garlic and ginger and continue to sauté for another two minutes. Add almond milk and red wine, then nutmeg, allspice and red pepper flakes. (Adjust pepper flakes to your personal taste.)

Add roasted squash, roasted peppers and butter beans to the almond milk/red wine mixture. Stir and coat the ingredients, then add chicken stock. Turn heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and puree with a hand held blender. Add brown sugar and salt to taste.

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